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Chart of the Month – March 2009 – Text Table Alternative

The chart featured this month is a showy and highly visual layout for comparisons. It is an alternative to a text table. The information is presented in a "column," but there is no need for side headings; the introductory sentence indicates what will be communicated.

The graphic that contains the information is a combination of standard shapes in the PowerPoint 2007 graphic library. The formatting is as follows:

  • The backing graphic has six horizontal gradient stops. Establish the top color and then apply lighter shades of the top color to the rest of the gradient stops. The white area formatted in stops 4 and 5.
  • The top part of the graphic (the "window") is the same PowerPoint shape as the backing graphic. It has a gray 5-point line with a horizontal gradient applied to the line (light gray on top and darker gray on bottom). The line is also formatted with a shallow bevel. There is also a nearly transparent shadow applied to the line. The fill is a semitransparent dark gray. Make sure that the rounded edges of both the backing graphic and the window graphic match – this will probably take some adjustments to get them just right.
  • The photograph has been formatted with soft edges and placed over the "window" graphic.

Information is then inserted into each of the columns. To maintain a uniform look, top align each "line" of information. Top aligning the rows of information makes it easier for the audience to make comparisons. This is important. Different font characteristics are also a good idea to help distinguish the "lines" of information across the columns. Notice that the ranking is made with stars instead of text. Use visuals like this whenever possible. This chart does not use a legend to identify the significance of the stars, but it would be a good idea to consider that for your charts. The legend was omitted because the stars were drawing on the "star" ranking that hotels receive.

This slide was developed to be used as a printout. If projecting the slide, some of the text would need to be deleted, leaving only the main points. That way the font could be increased so it would be readable by audience.

Consider this layout instead of a text table next time you need to make comparisons.

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